Protect the Point Forever
Born and raised at Punta de Lobos, Ramón Navarro found his passion riding the biggest waves on the planet. But his accomplishments in giant surf are just one part of a bigger vision to protect the culture and environment of the Chilean coast.
PUNTA DE LOBOS POR SIEMPRE:
PROTECT THE POINT FOREVER
The Fishermans Son
Punta de Lobos Por Siempre: Protect the Point Forever
Punta de Lobos, one of the world’s best left points, is home to Patagonia surf ambassador Ramón Navarro. Local community members, with leadership from Ramón and support from our partners at Save The Waves, have been working tirelessly to protect the point’s waves, heritage and environment from unchecked and unsustainable development. Preserving the way of life of multi-generational fishing families like the Navarros goes hand-in-hand with safeguarding the rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity of Chile’s coast.
We support Ramón, local citizens, and Save The Waves in their vision to protect Punta de Lobos forever—Por Siempre!
Crowdsourced funds go directly to development of the World Surfing Reserve at Punta de Lobos, protection of the area’s traditional fishing culture and marine biodiversity, and creation of a local foundation to protect this iconic point.
Save The Waves Coalition is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the coastal environment, through a unique combination of protected areas, economics, and direct action focused on the surf zone.
A WORLD SURFING RESERVE
by Nick Mucha
What do you do if private investors want to build large-scale commercial projects along the coastline you call home? If you’re Ramón Navarro, you team up with Save The Waves and get the site approved as a World Surfing Reserve—and then together you work like hell to protect the place forever.
A few years ago, in response to threats of development at Punta de Lobos, a passionate group of local surfers, environmentalists, government officials and business leaders in Pichilemu banded together behind Navarro’s leadership. They committed themselves to protect Lobos’ iconic left-hand point break, along with its marine environment and traditional fishing heritage. Their first action was to submit an application to Save The Waves Coalition in September 2013.
Save The Waves Coalition, a California-based nonprofit organization committed to preserving and protecting the coastal environment, oversees the World Surfing Reserve (WSR) program. With dozens of applications every year, the WSR program is highly selective and only a few choice breaks around the world have qualified for the designation. Six of them, to be exact: Malibu, California; Manly Beach, Australia; Ericiera, Portugal; Santa Cruz, California; Huanchaco, Peru; and Bahía de Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico.
An international panel of respected surfers, scientists, and environmentalists, known as the Vision Council, evaluates new WSR applications, reviewing them against four criteria: (1) quality and consistency of the wave, (2) environmental characteristics of the area, (3) local surf culture and history, and (4) local community support.
Despite the highly selective nature of the program, it’s no surprise that Punta de Lobos was approved to become the newest World Surfing Reserve. Frequented by the world’s elite big-wave surfers, the famous break works from three to thirty feet. Chile’s surfing history can be traced here, with Lobos being one of the first waves to be surfed consistently by visiting and local surfers alike. It’s also one of the most unique coastal landscapes in Chile, with the iconic Morros and beautiful headlands gracing the point. A migratory stopping point for gray whales, the immediate area supports a rich coastal and marine ecosystem that includes plentiful fish, crustaceans, and endemic cactus and bird species.
Presently, the entire point is under private ownership. The current zoning regulations allow for new construction, and at least one large-scale condominium project has been proposed. If these plans are left unchecked, Punta de Lobos could be transformed beyond recognition—with multigenerational subsistence fishermen being replaced by private access developments and construction crews.
Save The Waves and the local WSR committee have been effective in laying out a concrete plan to stem the tide of development along the fabled point. The long-term vision is to protect the coastline of Punta de Lobos, its marine resources and the local fishermen who call it home, making it a permanent public space for all to enjoy. The effort will accomplish these goals by creating a foundation to conserve the land, a set of marine protected areas to preserve the marine resources and traditional fishing rights, and maintaining ongoing stewardship of the point.
MY VISION FOR PUNTA DE LOBOS
by Ramón Navarro
When I was growing up I wanted to help my dad, and be exactly like him: a fisherman. Then a couple of guys blew into town with surfboards and wetsuits and I said, “Wow, this is amazing,” and then I wanted to learn to surf more than anything in the world.
So I learned to surf and started to travel the world, but I figured out pretty fast that the best place to surf was right at home. We have big waves, small waves and the traditional fishing culture I love. Nothing could be better.
While traveling, I saw many similar coasts around the world that had been polluted or were scarred forever by out-of-control developers. I saw places that were pristine before, but had already been ruined. I realized the coast that I loved so much was also under threat—from pulp mills, sewage pipelines, dams and senseless development.
Chile is an amazing country. I couldn’t be more proud to come from Chile and from Punta de Lobos, to be the son of my dad, a fisherman and diver. I know I have a responsibility to honor the generations before me by protecting the coast. I have to. It’s up to us to make sure there are traditional fishermen (and fish) in the future. It’s our responsibility to ensure our children and their children can see beautiful landscapes and biodiversity.
I was born on Punta de Lobos and I love Punta de Lobos. I’ll fight to protect it, and all of Chile’s coast—but it has nothing to do with what I want. It is for the future.
I know I can’t accomplish much on my own. I think everyone sees the right thing to do: Stand up to save some of these special places before they are gone.
Surf Addiction and the Environment:
To me, the thrill of surfing and the distinct feeling of being stoked can most adequately be described as an addiction. I first recognized my obsession when confronted by a friend after stating that I thought neoprene would make a good scent for perfume. I still think it would. I reluctantly confess that my addiction has fostered a new disorder that has me compulsively checking the Surfline app every half hour as though Mother Nature will answer my plea and change the report from “poor” to “good”.
My addiction is difficult to conceal since my body has developed signs that are simply too obvious to hide. Thanks to the intoxicating combination of salt and sun, my naturally black hair has turned to a golden-brown-blonde that has got everyone asking me, “Did you dye your hair?” The odd tan lines from my wetsuit make it hard to wear a short skirt and not get asked the embarrassing question, “Why are your ankles darker than your legs?” Then, there is the sand residue that clings to my ankles and arms that make it even harder to deny where I’ve been.
Even if I am able to cover the physical signs on my body, it only takes a few minutes to notice how deep my habit runs with a quick tour of my home. The sundry collection of surfboards that invades my patio and living room are obvious clues to where my money goes. Hanging in my bathroom you will find an array of stringy, colorful bikini tops that have only been worn once – but never to be worn again because they all fail to stay on while surfing. Wardrobe malfunctions, odd smells, salt, and the euphoric feeling of stoke I get when I conquer a wave is what I live for. At least I am not one of the addicts in denial, right?
As my addiction grows, so does my consciousness of the undeniable fact that surfers and non-surfers alike have a significant impact on my precious surf. Everything from cigarette butts and plastic bags to sewage and toxic-laden-water can be credited to the handy work of humans. These damaging effects have taken shape over centuries and their ramifications have exacerbated exponentially especially in the past several decades.
However, as surfers, it is evident that these reckless acts of humanity can impede our daily fix of stoke if something is not done quickly and effectively. Personally, I can’t just sit back and accept the destruction of my beloved ocean and ride the metaphoric wave of “tolerance.” If you are a surf junkie like me, then you should be willing to do anything to sustain your fix of stoke. And what does a junkie do when they need to sustain their fix? They hustle. A surfer’s hustle may be a bit different than one would assume when thinking of a drug junkie hustling. The surfer’s hustle begins with accepting responsibility as protectors of the sea. If surfers don’t accept responsibility, who else will?
Hustling includes awareness, action, and encouragement. Surfers should become aware of the activities that cause the issues that jeopardize our next fix and how we can foster change. A simple start can be done by supporting local activist groups who are dedicated to protecting preserving our beaches and waves like the Surfrider Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, and Sustainable Surf. The hustle, however, can be as simple as throwing away trash you see while exiting the water. But the underlying obligation as surfers is accepting the responsibility as caretakers of the sea. If every surfer shares in the hustle, our fix will never be in jeopardy of being a closeout.